Cancer Care: Young Adults — [Ian Paisley in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:18 pm on 8th June 2022.

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Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 4:18 pm, 8th June 2022

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We are introducing non-specific pathways so that if someone does not have a specific, clear diagnosis and the GPs are not sure what to do, there is a pathway to follow, consistent across every GP practice throughout the country, and people do not slip through the net. Early cancer diagnosis is one of the priority areas in the Core20PLUS5 approach, which we introduced last year to reduce health inequalities across the country. It is crucial that we use that opportunity to flag some of the issues that my hon. Friend raised.

Crucially, GP training across the board is important. Because many GPs will not have come across a young person with cancer in the course of their practice, Macmillan Cancer Support, CLIC Sargent and Cancer Research UK are doing work to roll out training with regular updates—it is not just one-off training—for GPs and other members of the primary care team. It is much more common now for people to be seen by the practice nurse, the paramedic or the physio if they have back pain or joint problems. It may seem like a physio problem, but there could be an underlying cancer diagnosis. It is important that we educate and keep up to date the whole team, not just the GP.

I am very happy to take away my hon. Friend’s suggestions and to see whether we can put in place some proper measures that will reduce the chances of this happening again. We will not necessarily be able to make sure that no one is missed, but my hon. Friend raises some flags that cause me concern and that suggest we are not where we should be. There are certainly things that we can put in place to stop cancer diagnoses being missed in young people with non-specific symptoms.

Question put and agreed to.